President Trump’s top military advisor reportedly did not expect the Commander-in-Chief’s attempted ban on transgender military service.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking general in the U.S. armed forces, told colleagues in an email that he was “not consulted” prior to the “unexpected” announcement. In a series of July tweets, Trump claimed trans troops would not be allowed to “serve in any capacity.”
“Chiefs, I know yesterday’s announcement was unexpected,” Dunford said in a July 27 email published on Tuesday by BuzzFeed. As a condition of publication, the outlet was only permitted to share a brief excerpt of the longer correspondence.
This confirms earlier reports about the president’s rashness in putting forward the proposal, which has since been blocked by at least four federal courts.
In Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, the author claims Trump only thought about his trans military policy for “10 minutes” before posting it to social media. The idea was one of “four different options” presented to the POTUS in a closed-door meeting, and each was “meant to frame an ongoing discussion,” not an immediate plan of action.
But just minutes after that briefing, Wolff claims Trump unilaterally took action to repeal a year-old policy enacted under the Obama administrationone which allowed trans people to serve openly for the first time.
Not only was Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis allegedly not consulted prior to those tweets being posted on July 26, he was reportedly on vacation.
The New York Times claimed Mattis was “given only a day’s notice about the decision.”
“[Trump’s] decision was announced with such haste that the White House could not answer basic inquiries about how it would be carried out, including what would happen to openly transgender people on active duty,” the paper reported last July. “Of eight defense officials interviewed, none could say.”
After a series of court rulings overturned the president’s attempted ban on trans military service, transgender people were allowed to enlist as of Jan. 1, but the White House has claimed it would be putting forward a new policyone it would defend in court.
Mattis is expected to meet with the Commander-in-Chief and Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday to discuss alternatives, which will likely be made public Wednesday.
That announcement follows on the heels of new guidelines from the Pentagon, which seek to remove any member of the military unable to deploy for one yeara policy intended to ensure the U.S. armed forces remain a “lethal military.”
“If you can’t go overseas in your combat load… then obviously, someone else has got to go,” Mattis claimed last week.
The newly unveiled rules on deployment could impact transgender troops undergoing hormone therapy or surgery if the military believes their transition makes them unable to perform in active duty combat. In order to enlist at all, the Pentagon has previously stated that trans people must be “stable in their preferred gender for 18 months.”
But a 2016 RAND report commissioned by the Pentagon has already debunked the notion that trans people will affect military readiness. It claimed the impact of transgender troops on the U.S. armed forces would be “negligible.”